Planner Review Planners

Planner Review #1: Full Focus

October 5, 2018
Here we go!
Notes:  I will review approximately 8 planners in this series, some of which I purchased and others that were sent to me to review (for the podcast + blog).  I will keep reviews relatively short & sweet, and will link back to all of them in a summary post!
Please note that the photos appear grainy in feedly in particular; if you click on them, the full image shows and they sharpen.  Hopefully this will not be a problem post-wordpress migration (currently in early stages, but happening!).
We will kick week #1 off with the Full Focus Planner!  This is actually an unusual case, as I purchased my own about a year ago but was sent an updated model for review.  I originally ordered it because, quite honestly, Michael and his daughter Megan (who works for his company) sold it incredibly well on their podcast (Lead to Win) and as a total planner geek I was just that curious what was inside.  

Yes, $30 curious because I believe that was the price tag.  It has since increased to $40 for a 3-month planner or $125 for 4 quarterly planner (sent in a subscription model), which is rather steep.  However, I do think this is a unique product that could be worth the investment for some users.
Style: Very professional, with a black cloth hardback cover and 2 ribbon bookmarks.  The first edition has somewhat retro lines/typefaces, which I liked; the newer one is more modern with finer lines.  It’s still nice and has an overall clean look.
in the wild
Quality/Durability:  High.  I am not worried this book would fall apart (and hey, it only needs to survive a quarter of heavy use!).  The paper is smooth, cream-colored, and my pens didn’t bleed through at all!  It also does not tend to smudge even with gel pens used by a left-hander (me).
Content: A LOT of planning and goal-setting tools are packed into this planner.  It has a number of pages just for laying out goals and generally scheming to help you lead your best life.  I could imagine spending a full afternoon in a hotel somewhere (perhaps after arriving at a conference that starts the next day?) filling out these pages.  Here’s an example of one from version 1.0:
idealized daily rituals
at least an interesting fantasy to think about!
The Ideal Week = a valuable exercise
Multiple goal setting pages and post-week analyses
There are even pages dedicated to planning out your weekends!

Every single day has its own 2-page spread, which is why this is only a planner for 3 months despite being quite sizable.  You have space for your top 3 goals, a task list, a timeline, and a whole notes page.  If you have ever wanted to get into time tracking, this format would work very well.

the old version . . .

and the new
This planner is for:
– Someone who wants 3 months of very structured pages
– Perhaps someone who is pulling out of a slump and really needs/wants a lot of space to dedicate to bringing more FOCUS to every day
– Someone with multiple projects that are in need of organization 
– Someone looking for less traditionally feminine, more business-oriented style
This planner is not for:
– Using as a family calendar or even a personal calendar – honestly, I think I’d have to have a supplemental paper or electronic system for that.  In fact, when I was using this I used my Erin Condren right along side.  I could see a Hobonichi Weeks working well with it, too since it’s so streamlined.
– Keeping yearly lists in one place
– Budget-conscious planner connoisseurs 
– Someone who wants lots of room for customization or free space (though you could do a lot of different things with the timelines/notes pages)
Questions?  I’ll try to answer!  And Planner ReviewFest will continue next Friday with a wildly different offering!  Has anyone out there tried an FFP*?
If you have a specific planner you’d like to see me review, let me know.  Especially smaller companies as they seem much more willing to send samples 🙂
* Not fresh frozen plasma, medical friends – Full Focus Planner!


  • Reply Heather March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Thank you for this review! I have been looking for different kinds of planners and was wondering about this one.  I think the ideal morning ritual, evening ritual, workday startup. workday shutdown is a really good idea to reflect on.  I was also wondering if you’ll be reviewing the Law of Attraction 90 day Daily planner? It looks similar to this one: very goal focused, lots of reflection questions, 90 days of double page daily spreads.  They have a different version that has full week spreads, but I have not seen that many reviews on their daily planner so I’d be very interested to see what you think of it. 🙂

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      Hi Heather! Believe it or not . . . I have that planner as they sent it to me for review last year and I honestly didn’t know what to make of it – it was a little ‘out there’ to me, so I never did a feature! If you’d like I can actually send it to you!

  • Reply Ellie March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I love this idea of reviewing different planners! I just got my first Hobonichi for 2019 and I am really excited to start using it (thanks for the inspiration!). I found the Full Focus Planner interesting as well but probably too detailed for me at this stage. I really use planners just for planning for the time being, not so much for journaling. But that”s the goal for 2019 and perhaps 2020 will be the year of more focus! #listof100dreams

  • Reply ptrich March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I really like and want the layout of this but I like the old font/style way better! I’ll have to think about it…

  • Reply Amy March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I love this series! I”m a Hobonichi gal, but have you tried the Passion Planner? I”ve seen it on Instagram and it looks really nice.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      I have not! I think the layout looks very interesting but visually really cluttered to me! Maybe I’ll have to reach out for a sample though 🙂 🙂

    • Reply Margaret March 10, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      I’m currently using the passion planner, 8×11 version
      – liked the exercise of putting together goals and reviewing the past month. This is a new thing for me.
      – Has all sorts of extras you can download including extending the time tracking/scheduling part to 24hrs. As someone who works shift I needed something where the day didn’t stop at 10pm.

      – too big to carry around easily so I end up falling off the bandwagon and not using it for a few weeks before picking it back up.

  • Reply Ash March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    What a great series! I am an avid self journal user (, which seems pretty similar to this one. I absolutely needed the intense goal setting while I was finishing my PhD. Right now I’m home with my daughter and searching for work/taking on freelance work*, and I find I’m totally keeping it going!

    This might seem a little too personal of a series for you to take on after the planner one is finished, but I was interested to see how many readers voted on wanting to hear more about how you make friends! We have moved SO MUCH over the last several years, and in general had a lot of stress. I’ve pretty much forgotten how to make friends! I heard you say on the podcast once that it takes 1000 hours to become friends. But since I’m often hanging out with other (cool! interesting!) women in the context of play dates, we’re always interrupted! My theory is that in those cases, it takes more like 2000 hours…

    *Medical writing – mostly case studies right now. Hit me up if you want someone to help you publish 🙂

  • Reply Lily March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Hilarious timing – I finally committed and put my order in for a 2019 hobonichi and then clicked over to your blog – planner review time! I did consider the Passion Planner and the Panda Planner (a possible 2 for review?) but decided to stick to the same set up as I had this year. Which is surprising as a few months in I had regrets (“I should have stuck to the cousin size – the original is too small!”) but something clicked recently and it”s working well for me. I looked through some old Cousins and realised how much blank space I left. Plus I realised that i wanted space for more “to dos” and I really need to learn to set more manageable daily goals so the limitation is actually a good reminder to be realistic. I love the flexibility of the hobonichi – I can pick my own review questions and write them in if needed! I have the avec version and tuck a few mini notebooks into the cover to store lists and ideal routines etc. I also have the weekly diary which fits into my (seriously oversized) wallet so I can have my schedule to hand without lugging the full book around. I would love to hear some tips on how you managed to stick to time tracking, and also how you manage an electronic work diary along with a paper planner.

  • Reply Monika March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I really like this one from Upstudio:… It’s super reasonable in terms of price ($40). It has pages for goal planning, space each week for goal tracking, small to do lists.

  • Reply Sunny March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Thank you for writing this series! I was recently looking at the Full Focus but I am pretty happy with my Hobonichi Cousin (Avec)…which I learned about from you! I agree with what you said how it would be good to use the Full Focus to pull out of a slump. I think Michael Hyatt has some great resources but they don’t necessarily have to be purchased in this journal form. I jotted down my workday startup and shutdown rituals in a notebook. I made an excel spreadsheet of my ideal week. And now I’ve been writing "Big 3" and "Other Tasks" in my Hobonichi daily pages. All this "focus" has helped me be more intentional with my time but I didn’t necessarily need to run out and get a new planner. That might be a no-brainer but thought I’d comment in case it’s helpful to others.

  • Reply Tanya March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    Hi Sarah! Avid podcast listener, first-time commenter and fellow planner nerd. 🙂 Since you asked if anyone has tried the FFP, I just wanted to pop in to say that I have been using it for over a year now, and I love it. It”s the first planner that I”ve stuck with for an entire year and then some. 🙂 I love that it has a place for my goals and weekly/daily routines. I also love the weekly reflection. In terms of day-to-day use, I use the planner as my main calendar, but use a hybrid system for tasks (I have a digital project list and task list – kept separate a la David Allen.) When I plan each day, I first do time-blocking to see how much time I really will have to work on tasks. Then I pull the tasks for the day from my digital system and write them in the planner. I do not look at my digital system for tasks throughout the day. I find that I am much more focused and productive and I am making progress on my goals, which used to get forgotten or pushed aside in favor of the urgent. It is not unusual for me to finish all the tasks that I have set out for the day, and then to stop and enjoy a well-deserved break! 🙂 Sometimes, based on the day”s schedule, all the tasks I have time for are the Daily Big 3 (or even just a Daily Big 1 or 2). It feels good to know that I am making realistic choices about what I can do with the time that I have instead of being disappointed that I couldn”t do more. I use the Notes page for all kinds of stuff: brainstorming, ideas for future tasks or projects, tracking weights I used for my workout, quotes I read or hear, etc.) Just to clarify about tasks – most of the stuff I do for my job, I don”t need to list out as a task. That stuff goes in the timeblocking section on the right side of the left page. Hope this makes sense!!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      LOVE hearing that you love it and exactly how you use it!!! I love your system.

  • Reply Jenny March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    What does it say right above the "Daily Big 3" in the old version? I see back stage, off stage, and…something else? What do those mean?

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 9:00 pm

      On stage! Meaning – which part of your career/life? Example, for me – on stage = seeing pts, backstage = more admin/prep type work; off stage = home or day off (though admittedly, this doesn’t feel so ‘off stage’ to me these days!)

  • Reply Amy March 10, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I (half) credit Michael Hyatt with my first half marathon. He had a post about the Jeff Galloway/Run – Walk – Run method that helped me keep training over the distance without killing myself. {The other half credit goes to my training partner!}

    Just this week I started using that "Top 3"idea in my Erin Condren planner. I use the first vertical block to write down my Top 3 work and Top 3 personal items for each day.

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